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Commentary on Surat Al-Baqarah

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Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah
The Cow
(Selected Verses)

By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

  1. Just as We have sent among you a messenger from among you who follows and recites to you Our signs, purifies you, and teaches you the Book and the Wisdom. He teaches you what you did not know.

'A messenger from among you' (rasūl minkum), humankind. In Arabic, the verbal root anasa from which the word mankind (insān) is derived, means 'to be companionable or intimate'. Man's nature is to seek familiarity so the messenger speaks in the language of his time in a way that is clear to the people. He makes known both the Book and the wisdom that comes with knowledge, so that outwardly there is safe conduct through life, and inwardly an opening to the sacred domain of the City of Knowledge that is entered by courtesy and humility. The journey in this life is from darkness towards light, from ignorance to knowledge. The heart that is pure will receive that knowledge if it hears and acts upon the prophetic message.

  1. So remember Me. I will remember you. Be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.

If one remembers Allah truly, then one is moving along the guided path, because all that is other-than-real has been avoided. If one's remembrance is deep and constant, then turning to the All-Encompassing Reality will reflect that remembrance by inspiration and protection. If the sincere seeker remembers Allah, Allah in turn remembers him.

Gratitude (shukr, from shakara, to be grateful, thankful; ashkurū, in the verse) is the fruit of the personal experience of remembrance (dhikr). The individual enters into the warmth and comfort of joy born of an inner contentment resulting from the neutralization of desires and expectations. Gratitude (shukr) is the outer expression of that inner state. When gratitude is genuine and deep, the individual's state at that time is one of profound and peaceful contentment (rida).

In the state of true gratitude, the individual is free of the agitations of desire and expectation. He turns towards Allah alone, and his receptivity is without veils or resistance. The state of gratitude results in inner confirmation and acceptance of the Creator's decree. It is when we are content with our destiny that we see how perfect the decree was.

The opposite of this clear path is a confused stumbling over the rocks of denial and unbelief (kufr). In such a state one is burdened by all one's anxieties and self-imposed defenses and ammunition. These habits and prejudices give one a false and temporary feeling of safety but are ultimately the cause of doom, for one starves in the hollow caverns of the lower self (nafs) and the dark abyss of arrogance.

This verse focuses on two states, remembrance of Allah, and covering up (kufr) and denial of higher reality. One is either affirmed mercy or denying it. In a state of gratitude and contentment, one's desires are neutralized. Only then is one efficient and one's full energy available.


Back Up Next

The Opening - A Commentary on Chapter 1: Surat Al-Fatiha ] The Cow - A Commentary on Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah ] The Family of 'Imrān - A Commentary on Chapter 3: Surat Al-'Imrān ] The Spider - A Commentary on Chapter 29: Surat Al-'Ankabt ] The Heart of the Qur`an - A Commentary on Chapter 36: Surat Ya Sin ] The Beneficent - A Commentary on Chapter 55: Surat Al-Rahmn ] The Event - A Commentary on Chapter 56: Surat Al-Wqi'ah ] The Kingdom - A Commentary on Chapter 67: Surat Al-Mulk ] The Jinn - A Commentary on Chapter 72: Surat Al-Jinn ] The Unwrapped - A Commentary on Chapter 73: Surat Al-Muzzammil ] A Commentary on the Last Section of the Qur`an ]